Upper-limb kinematic reconstruction during stroke robot-aided therapy


The paper proposes a novel method for an accurate and unobtrusive reconstruction of the upper-limb kinematics of stroke patients during robot-aided rehabilitation tasks with end-effector machines. The method is based on a robust analytic procedure for inverse kinematics that simply uses, in addition to hand pose data provided by the robot, upper arm acceleration measurements for computing a constraint on elbow position; it is exploited for task space augmentation. The proposed method can enable in-depth comprehension of planning strategy of stroke patients in the joint space and, consequently, allow developing therapies tailored for their residual motor capabilities. The experimental validation has a twofold purpose: (1) a comparative analysis with an optoelectronic motion capturing system is used to assess the method capability to reconstruct joint motion; (2) the application of the method to healthy and stroke subjects during circle-drawing tasks with InMotion2 robot is used to evaluate its efficacy in discriminating stroke from healthy behavior. The experimental results have shown that arm angles are reconstructed with a RMSE of 8.3 × 10−3 rad. Moreover, the comparison between healthy and stroke subjects has revealed different features in the joint space in terms of mean values and standard deviations, which also allow assessing inter- and intra-subject variability. The findings of this study contribute to the investigation of motor performance in the joint space and Cartesian space of stroke patients undergoing robot-aided therapy, thus allowing: (1) evaluating the outcomes of the therapeutic approach, (2) re-planning the robotic treatment based on patient needs, and (3) understanding pathology-related motor strategies.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7


  1. 1.

    Badler N, Tolani D (1996) Real-time inverse kinematics of the human arm. Presence 5:393–401

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Balasubramanian S, Colombo R, Sterpi I, Sanguineti V, Burdet E (2012) Robotic assessment of upper limb motor function after stroke. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 91:S255–S269

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Bosecker C, Dipietro L, Volpe BT, Krebs HI (2010) Kinematic robot-based evaluation scales and clinical counterparts to measure upper limb motor performance in patients with chronic stroke. Neurorehabil Neural Repair 24:62–69

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Cirstea MC, Levin MF (2000) Compensatory strategies for reaching in stroke. Brain 123:940–953

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Colombo R, Pisano F, Micera S et al (2008) Assessing mechanisms of recovery during robot-aided neurorehabilitation of the upper limb. Neurorehabil Neural Repair 22:50–63

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Colombo R, Sterpi I, Mazzone A, Pisano F, Delconte C (2011) Modeling upper limb clinical scales by robot-measured performance parameters. In: IEEE international conference on rehabilitation robotics (ICORR) (pp 1–5)

  7. 7.

    Denavit J, Hartenberg SH (1955) A kinematic notation for lower-pair mechanisms based on matrices. ASME J Appl Mech 22:215–221

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Dipietro L, Krebs HI, Fasoli SE, Volpe BT, Stein J, Bever C, Hogan N (2007) Changing motor synergies in chronic stroke. J Neurophys 98:757–768

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Dipietro L, Krebs HI, Fasoli SE, Volpe BT, Hogan N (2009) Submovement changes characterize generalization of motor recovery after stroke. Cortex 45:318–324

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Flash T, Meirovitch Y, Barliya A (2012) Models of human movement: trajectory planning and inverse kinematics studies. Rob Auton Syst 61:330–339

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Fugl-Meyer AR, Jaasko L, Leyman I, Olsson S, Steglind S (1975) The post stroke hemiplegic patient. A method for evaluation of physical performance. Scand J Rehabil Med 7:1331

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL (2013) Heart disease and stroke statistics—2013 update : a report from the American heart association. Circulation 127:e6–e245

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Guglielmelli E, Johnson MJ, Shibata T (2009) Guest editorial special issue on rehabilitation robotics. IEEE TRO 25:477–480

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Kim H, Miller LM, Byl N, Abrams G, Rosen J (2012) Redundancy resolution of the human arm and an upper limb exoskeleton. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 59:1770–1779

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Kreutz-Delgado K, Long M, Seraji H (1990) Kinematic analysis of 7 DoF anthropomorphic limb. Proc IEEE Int Conf Robot Autom 2:824–830

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Langhorne P, Bernhardt J, Kwakkel G (2011) Stroke rehabilitation. Lancet 377:1693–1702 (review. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 22:111121)

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Li Z, Kim H, Milutinovi D, Rosen J (2013) Synthesizing redundancy resolution criteria of the human arm posture in reaching movements. In: Milutinovi D, Rosen J (eds) Redundancy in robot manipulators and multi-robot systems. Springer, Berlin, pp 201–240

  18. 18.

    Mayagoitia Ruth E, Nene Anand V, Veltink Peter H (2002) Accelerometer and rate gyroscope measurement of kinematics: an inexpensive alternative to optical motion analysis systems. J Biomech 35(4):537–542

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Medendorp WP, Crawford JD, Henriques DYP, Van Gisbergen JAM, Gielen CCAM (2000) Kinematic strategies for upper arm-forearm coordination in three dimensions. J Neurophys 84:2302–2316

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Mehrholz J, Hdrich A, Platz T, Kugler J, Pohl M (2012) Electromechanical and robot-assisted arm training after stroke updated review. Stroke 43(12):e172–e173

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Mihelj M (2006) Hum Arm Kinemat Robot Based Rehabil. Robotica 24:377–383

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Norouzi-Gheidari N, Archambault PS, Fung J (2012) Effects of robot-assisted therapy on stroke rehabilitation in upper limbs: systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. J Rehabil Res Dev 49:479–496

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    OBrien MD (1986) Aids to the examination of the peripheral nervous system (3rd edn). London. Bailliere Tindall

  24. 24.

    Papaleo E, Zollo L, Sterzi S, Guglielmelli E (2012) An inverse kinematics algorithm for upper-limb joint reconstruction during robot-aided motor therapy. In: BIOROB-IEEE/RAS-EMBS international conference on biomedical robotics and biomechatronics (pp 1983–1988)

  25. 25.

    Patel S, Park H, Bonato P, Chan L, Rodgers M (2012) A review of wearable sensors and systems with application in rehabilitation. J Neuroeng Rehabil 9:1–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Rab G, Petuskey K, Bagley A (2002) A method for determination of upper extremity kinematics. Gait posture 15(2):113–119

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Richards L, Pohl P (1999) Therapeutic interventions to improve upper extremity recovery and function. Clin Geriatr Med 15:819–832

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Rohrer B, Fasoli S, Krebs HI et al (2002) Movement smoothness changes during stroke recovery. J Neurosci 22:8297–8304

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Sciavicco L, Villani L (2009) Robotics: modelling, planning and control. Springer, Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Siciliano B (1990) Kinematic control of redundant robot manipulators: a tutorial. J Intell Robot Syst 3(3):201–212

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Soechting JF, Buneo CA, Herrmann U, Flanders M (1995) Moving effortlessly in three dimensions: Does donders law apply to arm movement? J Neurosci 15:6271–6280

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Tolani D, Goswami A, Badler NI (2000) Realtime inverse kinematics techniques for anthropomorphic limbs. Graph Models 62:353–388

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was partly supported by the European project  H2020/AIDE (CUP J42I15000030006) and the Italian project Industria2015/DAHMS (CUP B85E10003020008).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to E. Papaleo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Papaleo, E., Zollo, L., Garcia-Aracil, N. et al. Upper-limb kinematic reconstruction during stroke robot-aided therapy. Med Biol Eng Comput 53, 815–828 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11517-015-1276-9

Download citation


  • Upper-limb kinematics
  • Rehabilitation robotics
  • Stroke rehabilitation